Wednesday, 10 February 2010

An early UK shot and two poems


Part of the day completing and printing the order of service; arranging / negotiating who is doing what; writing the brief five minute address. The rest of the time, working our way through the jungle of his savings and pensions. It's not that it adds up to a lot, because it doesn't - it's the constant alertness, the struggles and leaps of prudence, the prudence of someone who has never in his life felt safe. The balance between the god of good cheer and the god of anxiety is delicate.

I try to follow the windings of his mind. Even to begin to consider the extraordinary phenomenon of human consciousness is dizzying and humbling. In between the microcosms of dust and atoms and the macrocosms of the immensities of space whose silences frightened Pascal there is our realm that seems equally immense and silent, yet full of noise - mostly noise incapable of being interpreted.

The photograph above is from our first years in London, in a small terraced house. Those spiky sub-Picasso shelves and trifles! Tiny pots with minimal spiky plants. A doily.

Two poems from the 'My Fathers' section of Reel. An early start tomorrow. I'll put up another before we go.

My Fathers

My fathers, coming and going

Moustaches and grey homburgs: our fathers were
Defined by properties acquired by chance -
Or by divine decree. Standing behind her

In rooms, on stairs, figures of elegance,
They came and went in a murmur of soft voices,
Objects of bewilderment and romance.

How many of them on the premises?
Some worked twelve hours a day in an office
In the city, some placed bristly kisses

On our brows, some would simply embarrass
Us for no particular reason. Their age
Was indeterminate. They would promise

Anything befitting their patronage.
Were all these fathers one? And was it you,
My father, who pushed me in that carriage

I can’t remember now before time flew
And took her away as it will take us all?
I feel myself flying. It’s like passing through

Clouds in an aeroplane in its own bubble
Of air, a slightly bumpy ride down
Towards a runway as we rise and fall

Above the brilliant lights of a big town.

Their histories and fabled occupations

The histories and fabled occupations
Of their fathers lay somewhere off the map
In provinces lost to their imaginations.

The knowledge they had was fed to them scrap by scrap
And was all they ever needed. The fathers’ presence
Was sufficient. They watched them through a gap

In their mother’s eyes, beyond the fence
Of reason, arriving wreathed in smells of their own,
Some reassuring, others wild and tense

With dangers they had carried home from town.
Their fathers were the seas they read about
But never saw, in which a child could drown

However he might wave his arms and shout
For help. A singular compound figure stood
On the threshold of their bodies and looked out.

Mysterious rodents emerged from the wood
And scurried up the stairs at night to nibble
At their faces. They woke covered in blood.

Their father’s moustache was a scary scribble
Above a friendly voice. His kindness shook
The world out of its endless incomprehensible

Rigor mortis like the closing of a book.

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